Hallucinogens (Psychedelics, LSD, Shrooms, PCP)

What they are:

  • Illegal psychoactive drugs that change the user’s perceptions, thoughts, and mood
  • LSD – usually appears as a small piece of blotter paper containing a few drops of the substance, but can also appear in pill form
  • Psylocybin mushroom – appears as a dried mushroom. Effects are similar to LSD.
  • Peyote cactus – contains mescaline
  • PCP and ketamine (“horse tranquilizers”) – dissociative anesthetics appearing as an injectable solution or as a powder

What they do:

Individual experiences with hallucinogens vary widely from person to person and from use to use. Some of the features of hallucinogen use include:

  • Altered sense of time and space
  • Perceived detachment from surroundings
  • Mood swings
  • Hallucinations (false sensory experiences)
  • Pseudohallucinations (false sensory experiences that are understood to be unreal)
  • Illusions (sensory distortions of reality)

The risks:

  • PCP can be lethal at doses used recreationally
  • Physical symptoms such as nausea; numbness; jitteriness; increased blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing
  • Psychologically distressing or frightening perceptions (aka “a bad trip”)
  • Injury or death sustained from actions taken within a perceived but false reality (i.e. jumping from a high surface because you believe you can fly)
  • Psychosis
  • Flashbacks (sensory recollections of the drug experience, well after the drug has left the system) are common in heavy users, and may be psychologically distressing
  • Tolerance to LSD develops rapidly
  • Any drug purchased on the street may be impure or something else entirely

Effects of combining hallucinogens with other drugs:

  • PCP and alcohol or other sedatives: this is lethal
  • LSD and marijuana: bigger risk of a “bad trip”
  • PCP-coated tobacco or marijuana: leads to a dissociative psychotic state

Frequently Asked Questions

If I only shroom once a year nothing bad will happen, right?You are at risk any time you shroom or use any other hallucinogen. Even the same person using the same drug on several occasions can have wildly variant experiences each time. Each individual use comes with its own risk of a “bad trip,” during which anxiety and fear can cause a person to take actions that cause injury or death. Also, the bizarre behavior that often accompanies hallucinogen use makes it easier to get caught and be subject to legal consequences. And you can never actually know whether the substance you purchased is what the seller says it is.